Is smaller better? When it comes to leafy greens, the sprouts have the nutrients

Published 1:13 pm Tuesday, April 9, 2024

By Mike Barnhardt

Enterprise Record

He’s “Out From Da Woods.”

And visitors at local farmer’s markets can sample what Joshua Wood is growing these days – microgreens.

Wood has been accepted at the Clemmons Farmers Market, and also applied for Bermuda Run and Mocksville.

He will also sell plants he has started such as heirloom tomatoes, fig trees and some landscape ornamentals – but it is the microgreens that has his interest.

It’s no wonder the resident of rural Davie County is trying to make a go of gardening. He’s starting his business at the home built by his late grandfather, Pete Frye, who was quite the gardener and farmer. And his grandmother on his father’s side is Sarah Wood, a long-time Master Gardener who made sure Joshua didn’t miss those Junior Master Gardener camps while a child.

“I started looking into aquaponics, but it was too much money to get started and too much work,” he said. “Microgreens, I saw that was the perfect crop for a new endeavor.”

But don’t blink.

There’s about a nine-day turnover once the seeds sprout.

He started studying how to get started in December, bought equipment and seeds, and began experimenting in January.

And, not only do the microgreens taste good, they’re packed with more nutrients than the vegetable they would produce. He plants lettuces, beets, arugula, spinach, broccoli, radish and more.

“Another reason I got into this is the health benefits,” Wood said. “These are good for people with diabetes, and have all kinds of health benefits. All of these are nutrient dense. All of the nutrients are available as soon as the seeds sprout.”

The microgreens are from four to 40 times more nutrient dense than their fully grown counterparts, he said.

He has been talking to a few chefts to see if they’re interested in buying the microgreens, and has been trying them on family and friends. They’re a hit.

Gardening has always been in his blood. In high school, he even wrote a paper on the “Back to Eden” approach that replicates growing things the natural way. Yes, mulch is important around his garden.

“I’m trying to identify myself with the natural ways, with native plants,” he said.

Wood spent a few years away from the garden, but got back into the hobby he hopes to make profitable about two years ago.

“I realized how much I didn’t know,” he said, adding that internet searches are invaluable in teaching techniques. “You’ve got to do stuff and learn by experience. Just do it and learn from it.”

Microgreens are harvested the day of or the day before markets, and should last consumers up to two weeks if stored properly. He can tell you how to do that.

“A lot of people are skeptical, and will say they don’t like radishes, or broccoli, but the microgreens are more delicate on the stomach, and milder, too.

“And a lot of people have never heard of them, and I tell them they’re just nutrient-dense sprouts.”

Just adding the greens to a burger or sandwich can reap health benefits, he said.

“This is a lot of work, but it’s fun and rewarding.”